In which the author of Harry Potter takes Mr David Cameron, Conservative Leader in the UK, to task for his policies on single parents; policies which are quite similar to the approach John Key and Paula Bennett are advocating in New Zealand.
Here's a snippet:
I had become a single mother when my first marriage split up in 1993. In one devastating stroke, I became a hate figure to a certain section of the press, and a bogeyman to the Tory Government. Peter Lilley, then Secretary of State at the DSS, had recently entertained the Conservative Party conference with a spoof Gilbert and Sullivan number, in which he decried “young ladies who get pregnant just to jump the housing list”. The Secretary of State for Wales, John Redwood, castigated single-parent families from St Mellons, Cardiff, as “one of the biggest social problems of our day”. (John Redwood has since divorced the mother of his children.) Women like me (for it is a curious fact that lone male parents are generally portrayed as heroes, whereas women left holding the baby are vilified) were, according to popular myth, a prime cause of social breakdown, and in it for all we could get: free money, state-funded accommodation, an easy life.Click through to read the whole thing.
An easy life. Between 1993 and 1997 I did the job of two parents, qualified and then worked as a secondary school teacher, wrote one and a half novels and did the planning for a further five. For a while, I was clinically depressed. To be told, over and over again, that I was feckless, lazy — even immoral — did not help.
Wasn't it John Key who claimed some women on the DPB were "breeding for a business"? And someone pointed out to me recently that had Ruth Richardson had her way with benefits in the early 1990s, Paula Bennett would had to give her child up for adoption*? Compassion FAIL from the Tories, both here and abroad.
Bonnet tipped to Sophia Blair, via Facebook.
* The quote from Richardson, which was in the Dominion Sunday Times on March 20th 1988, reads: "If the 16 year old engages in sexual adventure and there’s an unintended pregnancy, she has to make choices. If she chooses to have an keep the child that must be a family decision. A 16 year old is a dependent child, not an independent adult. If her family doesn’t want her and if she is not able to get her partner (who is liable to be the same age) to support her economically, she must look at other choices, which is adoption. That is not a forced choice, it’s the choice young women made before the domestic purposes benefit was available as of a right."